Bahrain’s Isa S. Al Khalifa and Isa A. Al Khalifa complete promising season
Every driver in every category had a reason to push for points in the final race including the Bronze category, again showing the competitive nature of the championship. Home-grown teenage talents of Isa S. Al Khalifa who finished second in the bronze category and second in the GCC Rookie Category, just ahead of teammate Isa A. Al Khalifa who was the third placed rookie.
An outstanding debut season for the young Isa S. Al Khalifa was topped off with two successful races at the Bahrain GP. An impressive season has seen the talented Bahraini driver continue to improve with each race and really contest with some of the more experienced drivers in the championship.
Speaking after an exciting weekend of racing Isa S. Al Khalifa said, “I had a great race today, and really pleased with my performance overall this weekend. All season I have been pushing hard to get as close as I can to the guys at the front and I think today showed that. I had an early battle with Philip Sager, there were a few touches on the tight corners but we managed to keep it clean. I managed to get past him on the second lap with a good move and pushed on from there.
“I finished fifth overall which is the highest I’ve finished all season, it really has been a dream come true to get this sort of result during the Formula One weekend and also in my home country of Bahrain. Next season I’m hoping to come back even stronger and continue to progress in my racing career.”
Teammate and close friend Isa A. Al Khalifa also finished his first full season in the championship with a clean and professional drive, securing a third place position in the new Porsche GCC Rookie competition.
After the race Isa A. Al Khalifa said, “The race went very well today, it was the final race of the season and I wanted to keep it as clean as possible and finish the season on a high. I thought about trying to pull some risky moves late on but I knew it wouldn’t be worth it as my main goal was to finish in a strong position and drive an accident free race.
“I’m hoping to continue racing throughout the summer, I’m not sure where yet but I have learnt so much this season and want to continue to build on this. I’m planning to be back next season, my studies will also be important but i want to make sure I get time to race and continue to progress my racing career. I’m sad the season is over, it’s been a great experience but I’m sure it won’t be too long until I’m back in the car again.”
Thousands of fans had enjoyed a thrilling encounter that saw a battle unfold over ten laps of breath-taking action, all moments before the stars of the Formula 1 took to the track for the 2017 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
At the chequered flag only 2.3 seconds separated a breakaway group of the top four drivers, condensing the series into a single race with Cullen determined to stamp his authority on the season and reign supreme in the showpiece event.
It was a fitting finale to the most competitive season in the eight year history of the championship and a perfect advertisement for the pure one-make racing that only Porsche offers drivers in the Middle East region.
Final race victory was a dream ending for champion Cullen. After dominating the season the Irishman completed a wonderful weekend, taking his overall tally of eight wins in the season.
Speaking as champion Cullen said: “I sealed the championship yesterday but it feels so good to finish the season with a win. There was less pressure today and I wanted to be able to go out and enjoy myself. I didn’t have the best of starts but after turn one I managed to keep the pressure on both Dylan and Charlie in front of me. I waited patiently as I didn’t want to do anything too silly but as soon as I saw my opportunity I made a move and managed to overtake both cars at the same time.
“It’s been a special weekend for me, I started my championship here in November with a win and now I’ve finished on the top step again 5 months later. I’m going away from the Middle East with huge confidence and will be looking to make the most of this form in Europe this summer.”
The final race once again proved just how competitive the Porsche GT3 Middle East Cup Challenge has become with every point hard earned between the best drivers in the region. Right from the opening lap Cullen’s rivals showed they wanted to have the final say of Season 8 and lay down a marker for Season 9. It would be no victory parade.
Pereira sprinted into an early lead on the opening corner overtaking Frijns and building a lead over the first three laps. But a blistering first sector of lap four saw Cullen rocket into the lead and push Pereira into second and Frijns third were they crossed the finish line.
Just as the dust settles on the final round of season 8 following an incredible climax, already plans are well in motion for Season 9 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.